Property division and support issues have never been simple to navigate, but changing times have a way of raising new and complex issues for couples in conflict. One such development was illustrated in a case the case of Lamont v. Johnson. After the divorce in 2008, the husband, Lamont, agreed to walk away with $130,000 in RRSPs while the wife, Johnson, kept the matrimonial home, valued at $700,000 at the time.
By late last year, the home had skyrocketed in value to over $1.1 million. So, Lamont went to court to have his $842 monthly spousal support reduced or dropped altogether. Lamont relied on the argument that his ex-wife’s material circumstances had undergone significant enough change to warrant a variation in spousal support under the Divorce Act.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Frits Verhoeven disagreed. While the Act requires the change in circumstance to take the form of something neither party can foresee at the time of the original settlement, Justice Verhoeven stated that housing values do not fall within these parameters since their amounts are naturally expected to change over time.
The judge elaborated that the home’s increased value “does not change the present day financial circumstances of the wife in the slightest.” Johnson continues to live in the home with her two children and still pays a mortgage. Justice Verhoeven further pointed out that aside from her 15-year-old Toyota, the house is Johnson’s only significant asset, while Lamont enjoys a six-figure income.
The case provides an interesting tangent in the complexities of determining property division and spousal support. As conditions continue to change in Vancouver and Surrey, the lawyers at Peterson Stark Scott are ready to help divorcing parties pursue fair settlements.